How to Install an Electrical Outlet

There are many reasons why you might want to learn how to install an electrical outlet in your home. Perhaps the outlet is worn out and is no longer functioning properly, or perhaps you simply want to update the outlet.

Whatever the reason, this is a relatively easy project to tackle. You’ll need the following items:

  • Pliers
  • A screwdriver
  • An electrical outlet tester.

There are many different types of electrical outlet testers. The one that plugs directly into the outlet is usually the easiest to read and to work with.

First, you’re going to want to go over to the circuit box. Cut the power to the outlet.

Use your electrical tester to make absolutely certain that there is no more power flowing to the outlet. Never assume that the outlet isn’t live. Test, test, and test again if you have to!

Next, use your screwdriver to remove the switch plate. You’ll then be able to pull the outlet out of the box.

There will be screws on the sides of the outlet. You will need to loosen those screws so that you can pull the wires off of the outlet.

Once you’ve pulled the wires off of the old outlet you’ll need to take up your new outlet. Attach all black wires to the “hot” side of the outlet. The screws on the hot side are usually color coded gold.

Attach all white wires to the “common” side of the outlet. These screws are usually color coded silver.

There is also a bare wire which will attach to the outlet’s “ground” screw. This screw is usually green.

To attach the wires you’ll usually use your pliers to create a little fishhook shape at the end of the wire. The fishhook will then wrap around the screws. Of course, since you’re replacing an existing wire the wires may already be properly shaped.

Fold the wires back into the box. Be very careful not to put too much stress on them – be as gentle as possible.

Screw the top and the bottom of the new outlet back in. Make sure the outlet is straight so that the switch plate will fit correctly.

Finally, you can add the new switch plate and restore power to the outlet. Your electrical tester can verify that the job was done correctly, before you plug a lamp or appliance into your outlet.

If you’re a more visual person you might enjoy watching this video from Buildipedia to get a better idea of how the whole process looks.

If you’re not comfortable installing an electrical outlet yourself, remember you can always call an electrician. If you live in Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Cary, or anywhere else in the Triangle give us a call. We’re available 24/7 and we’ve been doing these kinds of jobs for over 20 years. We’re happy to help!

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